Applits Turns App Development Into a Crowdsourced Lottery

Startups for would-be entrepreneurs who have ideas, but lack the necessary skills or resources to get it off the ground seem to be a bit of a trend lately. Earlier, we covered SellanApp, which crowdfunds ideas into reality, and there’s quirky for crowdsourced product development. Now NY-based startup Applits also wants to get in on the idea market action. Like SellanApp, it wants to help app concepts become a reality, but it’s hoping a less complicated approach with a guaranteed pay day for the people coming up with all the ideas is a more attractive proposition.

With Applits, the startup sets a prize amount each month, which is up for grabs by people willing to submit app concepts to the site. Those ideas are upvoted by the community, and added to and expanded upon via on-site discussion. Ultimately, the idea that’s the most popular wins the prize, which is awarded to whoever came up with the concept to begin with. Applits then takes the idea, theoretically fully-formed thanks to community interaction, and sells it to one of several app development firm partners, who turn it into a real product. Applits entices developers by promising them the lion’s share of the app’s future revenue, while Applits itself takes a small percentage of the eventual revenue it earns through being sold via app stores.

There are obvious potential problems with this model; ownership is bound to be a concern, since Applits is basically profiting from the ideas and hard work of its users. But Applits co-founding team Keith Shields and Joshua Tucker believe that they’re actually offering a better deal than most could hope to get from going it alone on any app marketplace.

“For quirky, if you go on their user forums, you see a lot of complaints about how only 10 people out of the 500 people who’ve won actually see a significant amount of the profits,” Shields said in an interview. “15 percent of nothing is still nothing. We think a guaranteed payday of $1,500 is at least honest, and instantly gratifying.”

Shields said that the company has also been careful to do their due diligence around questions of ownership around content posted to the site, in order to try to mitigate potential problems down the road, because the fact is that no matter how clearly you state the terms, there’s going to be negative feedback from users if the next Angry Birds gets conceptualized on Applits. But the chances of building the next Angry Birds operating on your own as someone with an idea but no development expertise or experience are slim to none; your odds of getting a payday on Applits are much better, especially if you just have a pain point you want addressed but don’t want to go all-in by quitting your job, becoming an entrepreneur and recruiting a technical co-founder to address it.

Tucker notes that in addition to helping surface good ideas, Applits also builds in a launch audience for your product. He says that the community Applits is forming will help developers “fix” their issues with app discovery, by lining up an audience for a product before it’s even launched. That early boost could even help catapult apps created through Applits into Apple’s coveted top charts early on, which is crucial to an app’s long-term chances at profitability.

Applits is just into its first monthly contest, with a prize of $1,500 to be awarded to the winner. The founding team said they plan to change that amount based on what they see from early users in terms of feedback and how successful resulting apps are. There are also plans in the works to potentially bring on sponsored prizes, which would provide another potential revenue stream for Applits and a way for larger companies to take the pulse of the app-buying public.

The founding stories of many of the world’s most successful companies are generally littered with lawsuits (Facebook’s is likely the most public and noteworthy of all), so Applits could be wading into a minefield. But it’s also clearly laying out the arrangement ahead of time, so people should have less grounds upon which to cry foul later on. The bigger challenge might be keeping developers interested in buying the ideas it creates, since that’ll require that Applits becomes a true-blue hit-maker.

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